Tennessee has big shoes to fill on the outside of the front seven in 2020. Darrell Taylor will move on to the NFL after leading the pass rush over the last two seasons. This will free up quite a few snaps for others on the roster, forcing unproven players into big roles in Derrick Ansley’s defense.
Quavaris Crouch, DeAndre Johnson and Roman Harrison are all good bets to see increases in playing time on the edge, but don’t count out a couple of freshman. Tennessee inked two potential impact pass rushers coming into a wide open roster situation.
Here’s what Jeremy Pruitt had to say on each player.
“Tyler Baron, a local product here, is a guy that we targeted early on two years ago that we felt like was one of the best players in the country,” Pruitt said last week. “Has a unique blend of size and speed. He’s 6-4, 265 pounds, that can play all four downs, can probably play up and down the line of scrimmage, but a guy that we see as an outside linebacker for us. And we’re looking for that, we’re looking for 4-3 defensive ends, guys that can come off the edge and guys that can play all three downs.”
Baron committed to Tennessee during the early signing period, instantly becoming one of the highest ranked prospects in the class. It was another huge in-state get for Tennessee, which has been on the comeback trail in that department over the last couple of seasons.
A lot of times with these edge rushers coming out of high school, you see a lack of size early on. That won’t be the case with Baron, who seems ready for the next level. Tennessee will likely play him both standing up and with his hand in the dirt, something he should be able to handle.
Baron is the 112th ranked player in the 2020 class, according to 247 Sports. He registered nine sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a senior. He offers scheme versatility and fills an immediate need for the Tennessee defense. Expect him to be in the rotation from day one.
“Morven Joseph is another guy that can play all four spots,” Pruitt said. “Has unique ability to rush off the edge. He could actually play inside, would be a great special teams player, has length, range. Probably going to grow a lot. If you look at kind of his build, really wide shoulder, has length, long arms, big hands. A guy that’s probably going to add some weight, but a guy that can play all four spots and is a playmaker. When it gets to third down, you’re trying to decide are you going to play this guy and rush him off the edge, or is he going to be a guy that plays inside and playing on the better running backs in our league.”
Joseph, along with a couple of other players Tennessee signed, fits Pruitt’s 4-for-4 theory at the linebacker position. He loves guys that can handle snaps at every linebacker spot within the defense, though Joseph’s frame screams edge rusher to me.
At 6-3, 220 pounds, Joseph is a lot lighter than Baron, but he could offer more pass rushing ability. As Pruitt mentioned, he’s got some filling out that he needs to do over the next few years.
Joseph piled up 13 sacks in his senior season on his way to being elevated to a four-star prospect in the 2020 class.
The Florida native shows a really impressive burst off the line of scrimmage to go along with nice straight-line speed. He’s flashed some ability to bend around the edge, along with a variety of pass rushing moves. There’s a lot to work with here, especially as Joseph starts to get stronger and fill out.